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Can one have a legal right to disobey a law?

Using the recent test case of right-to-die campaigner and multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy, who challenged the law on assisted suicide, the issue of civil disobedience will be examined in a forthcoming inaugural lecture at Queen Mary, University of London.

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Professor David Schiff
Professor David Schiff

Speaking on Thursday 3 December 2009, Professor David Schiff, an expert on criminal appeals and miscarriages of justice, will consider the difficulties, for the political and legal systems, of recognising claims that it is right, or that one can have a right, to disobey the law.

“Debbie Purdy’s claim that her human rights were being infringed by a lack of clarification on how the Suicide Act is enforced was upheld in a landmark House of Lords ruling earlier this year,” explains Professor Schiff.

“This victory led to guidelines on assisted suicide law being published by the Director of Public Prosecutions,” he added. “Ultimately this will enable those who wish to break the law on assisted suicide to learn if this might be done with little risk of prosecution.”

David Schiff is a professor of Law at Queen Mary’s School of Law, having previously held the position of Reader in Law at the LSE. He is also a member of The Criminal Justice Centre, a legal research unit at Queen Mary.

During his academic career Professor Schiff has researched and published on emergency powers; the sociology of law; the English Legal System; civil liberties and the interface between law and the media.

His present research interests include miscarriages of justice, criminal appeals, legal theory and the philosophy of law.

This is a free event. To reserve seats, please contact:

Lecture: Can one have a legal right to disobey a law?

Speaker: Professor David Schiff

Date: Thursday 3 December

Time: 6.30pm

Venue: Skeel Lecture Theatre, People’s Palace, Mile End campus, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS.

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